Another weekend comes and goes in the Scottish Premiership. Celtic stretched their lead at the top while Rangers stuttered and a new contender emerged. Let’s take a look at what happened in the big games.
CELTIC 6-1 KILMARNOCK
This wasn’t anything we haven’t seen from the champions already. However, the timing of the result will provide a massive relief.
The Hoops had still been smarting from a 7-0 loss in Barcelona that was followed by a 2-2 draw at Inverness and Celtic were stumbling. There was some relief with a 2-0 midweek win over Alloa, but it was hardly convincing.
Just half an hour into the game with Kilmarnock looking to defend their three-game unbeaten run and sit tight, it looked like being another fateful day for the Celts.
They held a good structure, with a back four being protected by an extremely defensive two.
There were no standouts for Killie, as they all played as a team and even shocked the nation when they took the lead.
Souleymane Coulibaly dipped a rasping strike from 43 yards over Dorus de Vries and into the net.
However, Kilmarnock’s supremacy couldn’t last longer as they crumbled minutes after the opener. Moussa Dembele slammed two from low crosses into the 18-yard-area. Each goal came from a different foot as the former Fulham striker took his tally to ten goals.
The second half was just a bombardment of Celtic attacks. Killie knew they had their chance at 1-0 which they blew away.
Forrest used his pace to put Celtic 3-1 up just minutes into the second half, and the game almost turned into a one-way traffic and a circus from there on.
The introduction of Leigh Griffiths midway through the second half was another welcome sight for the Hoops. The striker had been out with a calf injury but looked as sharp as ever.
Consistently linking up the play and switching the ball from left-to-right, he looked a much more all-around player than he’s shown recently.
Leigh Griffiths was a real terror. His runs in behind the Killie defence were killing the Ayrshire men. His clever movement won a penalty, and he graciously handed the ball to the quiet Scott Sinclair. The Englishman slotted it home to make it six goals in six league games.
Celtic continue to overpower everything in front of them. With Aberdeen, Rangers, and Hearts still trying to work out who are the contenders, Rodgers’ men are slowly running away with this now.
They’re four points clear of Aberdeen with a game in hand. Considering we haven’t reached the end of September yet, that’s worrying in terms of competitiveness.
ABERDEEN 2-1 RANGERS
This one didn’t go the way many had expected. Sure, Aberdeen got the win most predicted, but not in the way expected.
Mark Warburton unsurprisingly played a very attacking team in this one. Jason Holt, Andy Halliday, and Harry Forrester occupied a midfield three with Barrie McKay, Martyn Waghorn, and Joe Garner ahead of them.
That’s six of your 11 players who lack defensive qualities. Only the Rangers’ back four and goalkeeper were responsible for shutting down Aberdeen.
Yet, for large spells, it worked.
Derek McInnes took the surprising decision to leave fans’ favourite James Maddison on the bench, and Aberdeen lacked spark.
Rangers bossed Aberdeen’s midfield throughout the opening 45 minutes with confident and accurate passing. Barrie McKay posed a real threat down the left flank.
The problem for Warburton is that his side looks dangerous up until they get into the box, a place where they become static.
It’s this lack of cutting edge that got Aberdeen through to halftime. Their goalkeeper had hardly been tested, despite their bad performance.
McInnes immediately threw on James Maddison for the ineffective Peter Pawlett at halftime, and the decision worked like a treat later on.
Firstly, however, the Dons went 1-0 up within a minute. Another simple long ball flicked on by Adam Rooney sliced the Rangers’ defence open.
Jonny Hayes was the man to cooly slot under Wes Foderingham in typical Rangers’ fashion.
But credit has to go to their response.
Warburton threw on Kenny Miller to try and inject some pace into the frontline. Within minutes, he was showing his attributes. He was turning defenders inside-out and creating space in the final third.
His lovely ball into Wallace won the Blues a penalty. Goalscorer Hayes was the culprit as he pulled down Wallace. Andy Halliday calmly stepped up and slotted home.
Afterwards, Rangers went back to their slow approach and hardly got into the final third once in the last 10 minutes.
A rare Aberdeen attack saw Hayes fouled by Tavernier. Controversy struck as the Gers defender seemed to get the ball. However, Maddison stepped up to curl one in.
It was a spectacular end to a game Aberdeen didn’t deserve to win. However, they showed the spirit of champions to dig deep.
They’re now Celtic’s closest challengers, with three consecutive wins. It remains to be seen if they can keep that up.
For Rangers, pressure grows on Warburton. Four winless games in the league have seen his side drop to seventh. He also has to stop going on about positive performances despite failing to pick up wins.
HEARTS 0-0 ROSS COUNTY
Another stumble from Hearts. This time to a side who’ve never beaten them at Tynecastle.
Questions are starting to grow about the Jambos’ title credentials. They have the squad to mount a credible threat for second. However, whether they can actually trouble Celtic is starting to look doubtful.
Going forward, they look sluggish in the attack and don’t finish what they create.Most worryingly, however, they also don’t seem to have a great balance in the squad.
A lot of the play County forced ended in Hearts winning free passes. Perry Kitchen and Don Cowie finally looked like clicking also. The problem is, both players want to protect the defence too often.
County goalkeeper Scott Fox had to be alert on several occasions. Tony Watt and Conor Sammon both had efforts saved by the former Celtic man.
But for all of the possession in the first half, a lot of their shots went high or wide of the target.
The second period was just more of the same.
County knew that a draw here would be a great result to take back to Dingwall. They sat back and tried to counter Hearts. However, their main threat in Martin Woods wasn’t advanced enough to cause any real danger.
So it was down to Hearts to light the game up. But they failed to do so. They created next to nothing as County had almost seven defenders at times.
Even when County went down to 10 men with just seven minutes remaining, the game never changed. Hearts struggled to create room in the final third and ultimately had to settle for a point.
This certainly wasn’t the performance of potential champions. One again Hearts have failed to get the job done. They now sit five points behind leaders Celtic having played a game more.